Monday, September 28, 2009

Racing roundup

Two races to report on.

Last Sunday was the CVS/Caremark Downtown 5K in Providence. This was my first real race after high school that I ever ran so it has become a tradition to run it.  It is also a big event close to home that for some reason tends to have great weather and it is always nice to see the elites who show up for the 5K championship.

It was another great day weather-wise and since I had run Norwood the day before I was planning on setting a comfortably fast pace and enjoying.  After the initial jockeying for position down the first hill I was able to hit my stride, mostly, and cruise through the first two miles.  I hit the second mile marker around 11:25 on South Main St. and...wait a minute.  Quickly doing the math in my head and utilizing fingers on both hands I deduced that I would have had to run my second mile in 5 minutes according to their clock.  Either I had just channeled the ghost of Jesse Owens or this was another race that had managed to screw up its mileage markers.  A glance at the GPS confirmed that I would not be heading to the Olympics anytime soon.

As I crested the evil hill at the end of the race I could see the clock approaching the 20 minute mark so I gave it a little kick and managed to cross the line with a guntime of exactly 20:00.  Nettime was 19:51 which was good enough for 260th place.

Medfield Day 5K
It was a crisp Saturday morning when we showed up at the start line for the 2009 Medfield Day 5K.  Zac was there so right away I knew that I wouldn't be top in my age group, again.  But that's ok. The race begins and just like every other 5K I have been in a large contingent of young kids sprint out ahead and set a blistering pace, like around 5 minute miles.  I'd be seeing most of them later on.  Sure enough, by the first mile I began to pass several of them.   By the turnaround most of the rabbits had started to fade back.

As I approached the turnaround I got to see who was ahead of me.  Looks like I was currently in ninth place at that point which was excellent.  I kept my pace and within the next mile I had passed another kid to put me into eighth.  The rest of the pack was too far ahead so that is where I finished up.  Ended up getting eighth overall and first in my age group.  I was a bit disappointed with my 19:37 time only because I thought I was going faster than that but it is what it is.

Notable mentions: Zac ended up second overall; Mel C was first female, Maureen was second; and Michael and Jeff P both finished in the top twenty.

Final note: several people and my own GPS confirmed that the race was long; it ended up being 3.17 miles.  I don't know what is going on this year but that is like the fourth or fifth race in a row that either had incorrect mileage or had the mile markers in the wrong place.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Norwood Hospital - Fin

Race turned out well. I set out to do an easy pace, but then the race started and I abandoned that idea, again.

As I got close to the half point (it was an out and back) the leader was easily a hundred yards ahead of anyone else. He was flying. I had been feeling a bit tired due to the 10 mile warmup but started feeling stronger the further into the race.

Around mile 3 towards the top of the rather long hill I started a duel with an older guy. He'd pass me, I'd pass him and so on. Eventually he kept the lead but then we hit the downhill and I turned it on. Kicking it in I cruised down the hill and left him in the dust. Pulled out a 16th place finish which was just fine with me.

A notable finish: Tracey captured second place female. Excellent job. Sorry about not being there to cheer you on during the awards but in my defense, I'm an idiot and can't be trusted with anything.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Norwood Hospital Update

There was a long sleeve shirt in my goody bag. That makes this officially the greatest race ever.

I'm gonna double check to see if the put any beer in there. You never know.

Norwood Hospital 4 Mile

It's 7:45AM and I just finished up ten miles in front of the hospital. The race doesn't start until 9 and I ran over here from Westwood. While the sun is nice, my sweaty clothes are starting to feel a bit cold in the 50 degree air and light breeze.

Perhaps this was not the best plan of action.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Split workout

Monday I did a split workout.  I had planned on doing a long run on Sunday but then Tim stayed over and we ended up hanging out and doing some geocaching with the kids.  Good times.  That left me to do my twelve on Monday.  Naturally work wouldn't let me take a day to go running so I had to split it up between lunchtime and after work.  6 miles each run.  Both runs felt pretty good and I put in a decent pace; 7:45/mile during lunch and around 7:50/mile that evening.

Now as some of you know, I have been having some issues with my legs and particularly my right leg.  I believe it is due to some pronation so I concentrated on the two runs on keeping my leg straight and not rolling as much.  Worked out good except that now the outside of my knee hurt because I was changing up my stride.  No big deal, just sore.  Or so I thought.

Tuesday I embarked on a gentle run at lunch.  I didn't even make it a mile before stopping.  My knee was absolutely killing me.  Nice move there, way to ruin another part of the body.  I am such a dumbass.

Needless to say, Wednesday I did not run.

But Thursday felt great.  I did a fast 5.8 or so.  Excellent.  I had decided to stop destroying my knee and try out the SuperFeet insoles I had previously bought to try and control the pronation.  I haven't been a huge fan of the insoles because the arch support has felt strange and in the wrong place before.  In this new pair of shoes they felt ok.  It still felt as if there was something under my foot the whole run but it never got painful.  I think they helped a bit and the run was mostly ouch free.  I feel ok (not great but ok) today so I guess it worked.

Another big weekend coming up.  Norwood Hospital 4 Miler (4? 5? whatever) on Saturday and then the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K on Sunday in Providence.  I scored number 283 for the CVS 5K which is pretty cool.  I guess they expect me to actually run fast being up there in the front.  Well I guess I fooled them!

Catie and I hitting the pavement at the 2008 Downtown 5K.  Look at how excited she is!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ollie 5 Mile

Or 4.91 miles.  Apparently something went wrong, the official results are recording it as 4.91 miles due to "missed turnaround", whatever that means.  You would think that the USATF-NE 5 mile championship race would have its act together.  I blame the rain.

Speaking of rain...

It was a cold and rainy day.  Seriously, it was freakin' pouring out.  All of South Boston was covered by inches of water.  Naturally with the conditions the way they were we parked about three blocks from the Bank of America Pavilion and walked, in the pouring rain, over and grabbed our numbers and gear.  Then we had to walk back to get ready.  The gigantic lighting and thunder crash half-way back was a total treat.  So as you can imagine we were insanely soaked by this point.  I did find out that my wind pants are in fact, not even remotely waterproof.  At least I will take that knowledge with me.

Time comes to line up for the race.  A little rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and we are off, apparently.  I never heard a gun go off so I was kind of just swept along with the crowd.  No worries; being that the weather sucked and I was a tad hung over (another good tip is to never go drinking until 1:30AM the night before a race) I figured I would just tuck into a comfortable pace and stick with it.  No need to push it too much.  With that in mind I settled into a 6:30 pace and enjoyed the race.

Luckily the rain had abated and was more of a mist now so it actually ended up being a pretty decent day for a run.  Up the first hill and down to the waterfront we went.  Suddenly the lead runners started passing me on the other side of the road on their way back after the turnaround.  Damn they were fast.  These guys make it look effortless.  The turnaround was just up ahead when Don passed me by on his way back.  Take the turn and now I got to see the rest of the crew as we passed.

Hit the three mile marker still feeling good.  Wait, that mile marker came up really quick.  A look at the GPS confirmed my feeling, it read 2.8 miles.  Hmm, interesting but no worries.  I kept my pace pretty consistent and soon was hitting the 4 mile marker underneath which a few people were "stoopin' it" and letting us all know that yes, this was mile 4.  Except that it wasn't.  Again my GPS read around 3.8 miles.  Intellectually intriguing but I still had a mile to go so I didn't really care all that much.

Picked up the pace for the last mile but didn't kill myself.  I was happy with my 32:19 (32:24 official) time and the fact that I picked up a point on El Presidente which I thought would put me one point out of the lead but a quick check of the standings shows that there is a tie for the lead!  Woo hoo.  Guess I shouldn't have blown off the James Joyce Rambler after all.

After the race it was off to the Pavilion to sample the free Harpoon ale and stand around in the cold rain.  So smart of me to leave all of my clothes in the car.  Hypothermia never felt so good.  The beer really was good though.

My 32:34 finish meant a 6:36 pace which I was happy with.  But the field in this race was so strong that I came in 199th!  Damn, that is a crazy field.  Always fun to race with talent like that.  But next time it's raining like that I'm bringing a jacket for afterwards.  Not my smartest moment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Zen and the art of biomechanics

Or: Why my leg hurts

So even though I scaled back on my running for three weeks because my shin hurt (oh and that whole calf popping thing) I found that it still hurt when I started running again this week.  "Why", I thought.  You would think that it would be at least somewhat better by now.  What could be causing this?

I began to really pay attention to my stride.  By that I mean I walked in slow motion staring down at my leg.  I noticed that my knee was tracking at an angle towards the inside of my stride and then rolling back out to move forward.  "Interesting", I thought, "The left one doesn't do that".  Which is probably why that one doesn't hurt at all.  During some runs I also began to really pay attention to how my foot landed and rebounded to look for clues.  What I noticed was that I was landing in the middle of my foot and rolling inward, in essence pronating, and that the outside of my foot wasn't making any contact at all.  Basically my right foot is overpronating while my left is working just fine.

Personally I blame my high school hurdling career.  You can only bang into so many hurdles or land hard on the track with a fully extended leg before something starts to give.  In my case my leg is a bit out of whack and the fact my foot points off a little to the outside is proof of this.  Symmetrical legs are just so boring.

During my last few runs I have concentrated on keeping my right foot from rolling as much and it seems to be working.  The pain isn't as bad and seems to be holding steady, in fact I feel pretty decent today.  So how did this come about?  I can only assume that it was the change of shoes.  My recently retired pair were Mizuno Inspires while the two pairs before them were both Saucony Omnis.  Maybe the Saucony had a little stiffer control in them and therefore held up better.  I just got a pair of New Balance 769 and they seem to behave a lot like the Mizunos so I will have to keep concentrating on changing my stride.  I guess an option is to move up to motion control shoes but I really don't want to since they tend to be heavier.  Inserts could help but I have yet to find any that haven't made me want to saw my feet off after a few minutes of using them.

At least I have something to focus on and work towards fixing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walpole 10K

The question of the day was: how was the calf going to hold up during the race? Saturday I got out and did a brisk 4 miles (more like 3.86 but whatever) and it held up good until around 3.5 so my hopes were high. Even if the race was going to be 3 miles longer, and significantly hillier, and faster. But those were all minor details. There were about 11 club members that showed up for the race and the weather was excellent so you just knew it was going to be a good day.

We got to watch the start of the 5K (when was the last time I actually got to watch a race start without being in it?) and after a few minutes of hold time we set off. Naturally the pace was fast out of the gate and I got pulled along with the rest settling into around a 6:40 pace. So far so good.

John, Maureen, and myself stayed pretty close together for the first mile or two before I began to pull away. Maureen was the lead female at that point so I thought she had a good shot at taking it. Right around mile 3 I could hear her gaining on me and getting ready to pass me by. But then I realized it wasn't actually her, it was some other girl. Ok, no problem, I'm cool with that. Except that she stopped her surge and kinda just settled in right near me. I soon passed her again on the uphill and then she surged forward past me on the flat. This went on for the next mile and a half. While that is annoying in its own right (pick a pace!), she was wearing an ipod and it was blaring. I hate that. Even worse was that I had to listen to the crowd the whole time yelling that she was the first female. One, she can't hear you. Two, thanks for cheering me on as well, or not. So that spurred me on to leave her behind around mile 5. Bye bye Lisa.

Calf was feeling good the whole race; no tightness, no pain. I had modified my stride to shorten it up a bit to keep from overextending and it seems to have worked. That had the unfortunate side-affect of keeping my pace down but I really couldn't complain. Final turn onto Common St and I was still passing people with one hill left. I gave it most of what I had left, too little training the past few weeks left me tired, and there was the finish. I got surprised at the end by someone flying by me as we turned into the High School but by that point I was really happy with my performance.

Now here is the only part I can complain about; I came in 18th overall (psyched about that!) but I got 8th in my age group. What! That sucks. If I had run in the 20-29 age group I would have gotten 6th. There are just too many good runners in my age range.

Today the calf is just slightly sore, feels almost normal post-race soreness so it probably was not as badly injured as I had first thought. That's a relief. But my shin on my other leg has started to act up. Here we go again....

5 1/2 weeks to Bay State. Maybe I should think about starting my training up again?

P.S. I think everyone in the club had a great race. We got a top three female, age group placers, PRs all over the place and a party that afternoon. Good times.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Zensa-aah that feels good.

I picked up a pair of Zensah compression leg sleeves to try and speed up the recovery of my calf. I wasn't sure what to expect but the reviews were pretty positive on them and even the people at the store were full of praise so I figured I would give them a try. Lo and behold they work pretty good. After I put them on I found that the muscle pain was significantly decreased when I walked. I've been trying them out for a couple days now and they definitely make a difference.

Unfortunately they didn't make that much of a difference on my run today. Because I haven't run since Sunday I decided to get out and see how the leg sleeve would work. Quickly I realized that while it helped, it could not overcome the injury I most certainly still had. So I did a light run, only about a mile and a half and called it in order to avoid making matters worse.

Today's run was also a test of my new shoes and that turned out so-so as well. The right shoe digs into the bottom of my heel a bit. I blame my foot more than the shoe, this isn't totally unheard of when I wear shoes, so I may have to suck it up. Once I tied them a bit tighter it didn't irritate me as much so we will continue to test them out.

"Learn to run when feeling the pain: then push harder. "
William Sigei

Online Entry for 2010 Boston Marathon

Got an email that entry starts Sept. 9th.

Thanks for rubbing it in BAA. Bite me.